| 27 September 2023, Wednesday |

French woman shot through wall in Marseille drug shooting dies

A 24-year-old woman has died after a stray bullet aimed at a drug-dealing hotspot hit her in the head in her flat in the French city of Marseille.

The bullet was fired at random and pierced a window panel in the woman’s bedroom, prosecutors said.

Marseille has been rocked by escalating violence between drug gangs, leaving at least 40 people dead this year.

The woman is at least the third innocent member of the public killed in such attacks.

She was initially left brain-dead after a burst of Kalashnikov gunfire hit the third-floor flat she lived in with her mother in the Saint-Thys neighbourhood on Sunday night.

“She was admitted to hospital with a serious wound to the head and in danger for her life. She died in the early hours of Tuesday,” said Marseille prosecutor Dominique Laurens.

The shooting took place in an area close to a pharmacy known to police as a drug-selling point, the prosecutor added in a statement.

Police found 23 Kalashnikov bullet casings at the scene and Ms Laurens said, after an initial burst of gunfire, the woman was hit by a second round fired at random in the air.

Three other flats in the building were also hit by bullets, but none of those residents were injured, according to the prosecutor.

“There is unbridled use of weapons of war to try to conquer new territory” between drug gangs said Frédérique Camilleri, police chief for the Bouches-du-Rhône department that Marseille is a part of.

Additional police forces were being deployed in the area, she added.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin described the incident as an “absolute tragedy” and promised police additional resources.

He inaugurated new premises for France’s elite Raid police unit in Marseille.

Marseille has a long history of violence linked to turf wars between rivalling drug gangs.

But its latest attacks come at a sensitive time for the Mediterranean port city which is hosting fixtures for the Rugby World Cup and a visit from Pope Francis in September.

A 55-year-old man was also shot dead Monday evening in a district in the deprived north of the city, the area most often linked to drug trafficking. The alleged perpetrators in that shooting were two people riding a motorcycle.

Two gangs, Yoda and DZ Mafia, are said to be behind most of the shootings in northern areas of Marseille, particularly in the high-rise district of La Paternelle.

There have been more than 90 murders or attempted murders linked to drug trafficking in France’s second city this year, according to the Marseille prosecutor’s office – 43 people have died and 109 more have been wounded.

Smaller regional cities are also increasingly becoming caught up in the drugs war.

An 18-year-old and a boy aged 10 were shot dead within a few days last month in the southern city of Nîmes in attacks linked to the drugs trade.